cover image The LEGO Story: How a Little Toy Sparked the World’s Imagination

The LEGO Story: How a Little Toy Sparked the World’s Imagination

Jens Andersen, trans. from the Danish by Caroline Waight. Mariner, $32.50 (432p) ISBN 978-0-06325-802-0

Biographer Andersen (Astrid Lindgren: The Woman Behind Pippi Longstocking) turns to the legacy of Lego in this charming outing. Using the Lego Group’s archives and conversations with former president and CEO Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen (founder Ole Kirk Christiansen’s grandson), Andersen begins in 1915, in Western Jutland, Denmark, when Christiansen, a carpenter, bought a wood workshop. But his business foundered, only to be saved in 1932 after a lumber merchant saw toys Christiansen made and placed a large order for them. Toys became the center of Kristiansen’s company, and the plastic blocks the company is famous for came about thanks to a mid-1940s wood shortage and inspiration from the “self-locking building bricks” made by an English toy company. Not long after, the company opened a headquarters in Germany, and, after a 1956 PR campaign, “money started rolling in.” The upward trajectory continued in the early 1970s, when “expansion grew by 155 percent,” and by the 1980s, the company signed a deal with McDonald’s in America. Andersen does a great job showing the company’s lasting power through 90 years of change, and the archival photos are a treat. This will delight business history buffs. (Nov.)